But where is the Gamification?

But where is the Gamification?

According to leading information technology and research company, Gartner, this is what was going on in the world of Gamification in 2014:

  • more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes tried to gamify those processes
  • more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations had at least one gamified application.

Unfortunately, 80% of these Gamification projects failed or are in the process of failing, leading to the Gamification sector entering a “Through of Disillusionment” at the end of 2014.


So why did so many Gamification projects fare so badly? Well, the Gamification industry and their clients alike tended to focus on Game Mechanics rather than creating what I would call “Game Derived Engagement” (or better Human Focused Design).

The problem with such a focus is that just adding some points, badges and a leaderboard onto a website does not create engagement. Nor do monsters, cows, or Angry Birds by themself.

bad gamification design.001

So while these game mechanics are part of Gamification, they don’t capture the core essence of Gamification. Gamification is using Game Mechanics and Techniques to engage and motivate people through their human core drives. Putting these mechanics first and not human motivation is putting the cart in front of the horse!


A Typical Gamification Conversation With A Typical Client in 2014

To illustrate the influence that the Points, Badges and Leaderboards crowd had on clients, let me recount a typical conversation we had with a typical client. He was enthusiastic about Gamification; saw Yu-kai’s TedX inspiring talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5Qjuegtiyc; and investigated our websites www.octalysisgroup.com and www.yukaichou.com. So he was all prepared for our talk, right?

Client: “Hey guys, so awesome to speak to you. Can you do Gamification for us? I mean gamify our website so that it becomes engaging and winning?”.

We: “Sure! What are the business metrics that you want to improve? What desired actions identified to support these metrics and what are your main user types? If you tell us, we will do an Octalysis Audit and see where users drop out of the experience because of lack of human core drive design. On the basis of that we will then recommend what immediate actions you can take to resolve the biggest issues. And after that we will create an Octalysis Gamification Design for all users and all phases of the experience for you, to make your product truly winning and addictive. How about that?”.

Client: “Er…yeah…sounds good, and all that motivation stuff and UX is ok, but let’s talk more about Gamification and less about motivation!”

We: “…..er…no…?”

Client: “Well just give me the Game Mechanics that work the best for my sector and we will just tweak that a bit for our site!”.

Stop signs


Fortunately for his product, and for us, he changed his opinion after hearing what we did for other clients. He realised that you cannot just copy paste Gamification solutions off the shelf, even though that sounds like the easier (and most likely cheaper) way to go.

So, 2014 was a year of informing people, sharing what we have learned over the years and sharing the results of our successful Octalysis human focused design engagements with clients. Of projects where we improved clients’ ROIs like K-coefficients (virality factor); Daily Active Users, Monthly Active Users, Conversions and the like with 100 to even 500%. Our hope was that this information in then end would trickle down and add to a broader awareness movement of what good Gamification design is.

OK, so that was 2014. A great year, but a learning year for most of the Gamification Industry players.

2015: Gamification Slope of Enlightenment

History of Gamification.001

2015 is here though and according to Gartner’s Hype Cycle we are now about to enter a new promising phase: the Slope of Enlightenment! Great timing of course, with the launch of Yu-kai Chou’s book “Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards just around the corner.


We are already seeing a noticeable change in the way our clients have broadened their view on what good Gamification is and what it is not. They now realize that Human Focused Gamification Design, the way we practice in The Octalysis Group, and not just Game Mechanics is key to creating user and employee engagement.


Remember: it’s not the flying bird (the game mechanic) as such that makes Angry Birds an addictive game, but the fact that the game is designed in such a way that it appeals to your Core Drive 3: Creativity of Empowerment and Feedback; your Core Drive 2: Development and Accomplishment; your sense of Core Drive 7: Curiosity and Uncertainty (see www.yukaichou.com for more information)

Can you imagine if we would infuse that game with Octalysis Design for Epic Meaning and Calling (Core Drive 1) or Core Drive 5 (Social Influence and Relatedness)?

That would be awesome indeed! Just adding another Game Mechanic like a bird that can jump instead of fly? Nah…





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